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Atlanta Hawks Forgetting Joe Johnson
Posted By Joel Brigham On April 21, 2013 @ 12:43 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
It’s hard to remember now, but all the way back in early July of 2012, the Atlanta Hawks traded away their franchise player in Joe Johnson for practically no return. The deal was considered a success for Hawks general manager Danny Ferry because of the financial flexibility it helped create, but from a competitive standpoint there wasn’t a journalist breathing that expected them to actually have a better season without Johnson than the previous one with him. Over the summer, it really did seem like a foregone conclusion that Atlanta would be lottery-bound.
Boy, were we all wrong.
“We were pretty far down the totem pole,” Hawks point guard Jeff Teague said before Sunday’s Game 1 in Indiana. “We all knew coming into the season that we had the ability to get here and that we had the personnel to be successful in the playoffs. Now here we are, and we’ve still got unfinished business.”
“We heard [the criticism],” said head coach Larry Drew. “Our players heard it, and going into the season we had two choices to make: to buy into it or to prove people wrong, and I think our guys did that.
“These last few days of preparation, I’ve heard our players talk about how everybody wasn’t expecting us to be here. In moving Joe (Johnson) and moving Marvin (Williams) and bringing in 10 new faces, it was just a matter of how fast we could get it together, or even if we could get it together. This journey throughout the regular season, we’ve had our highs, we’ve had our lows, but I kept having the feeling that this team would make a big splash. Now that we’re here in the playoffs, anything can happen. That’s the way playoff basketball is.”
Kyle Korver, who was one of those 10 new players, said he doesn’t think just getting to the playoffs is enough to silence their critics, however.
“We’re glad that we’re here, but by no means are we going to be satisfied just getting here,” Korver said. “When you’re in the NBA, there’s a lot of pride and a lot of competitive nature on every team. Coming in, people didn’t really give us a whole lot of credit, but from where those expectations were I think we had a pretty decent year. There’s still more in us, though, and I’m hoping we get to show that now.”
It’s even more important considering the uncertain future of the roster, which could experience a massive amount of overhaul this offseason. Only Lou Williams, Al Horford and the small handful of guys on rookie deals are certain to return next season.
Even Coach Drew’s contract is up after the playoffs. That means this is the Hawks’ last chance to make a postseason run with the team as constructed, and Drew certainly seemed excited about that opportunity.
“It’s about the present,” Drew said. “We don’t know what the future holds—not even me. My situation is no different than theirs, but we’re going to live in the moment. We’re going to play every game.”
They just hope to turn as many of those games into wins as possible.
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